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Naked Aboriginal kids on postcards: the line between art and exploitation?

Yesterday I walked through the Alice Springs Mall, stopped at a few tourist and souvenir shops and bought a few postcards. One group of postcards that caught my eye was those with pictures of naked or semi-naked Aboriginal children.

You can buy these cards in many outlets in the Alice and across the country — souvenir shops, backpacker hostels, newsagents, Australia Post, hotels. And if you are too slack to walk down the road, you can get them on the net — have a look for yourself here, here and here.

The release by NSW Attorney-General John Hatzistergos of his Government’s Report of the Child Pornography Working Party last month raised questions about what is child pornography in the strict sense. The postcards are a prime example.


Sunbakers. Photo by Alastair McNaughton


Photo: Peter Lik

Predictably more than a few of the media reports into the Working Party’s report concentrated on the kerfuffle over fine art photographer Bill Henson’s images of teens that caused a stir in 2008. There was some protest from the luvvies and civil libertarians about the proposal that “artistic merit” be removed as a defence to a prosecution for the production or possession of child porn.

But most of the media appear to have missed what is the real meat-and-potatoes in the report. As page 35 the report notes:

There is currently no uniform scale used by prosecuting authorities for depicting the level of seriousness of child pornography images used in child pornography prosecutions.

That is, there is no objective measure by which the courts can assess the severity or otherwise of one image depicting abuse against another. The Working Party recommended that the joint Queensland and Federal Police adaption of a Microsoft program known as the Child Exploitation Tracking System (CETS) be implemented in all Australian jurisdictions.

CETS would provide the courts with prescribed categories based on escalating degrees of the seriousness of what would be categorised as Child Exploitation Material (CEM):


It’s pretty clear that Henson’s photographs would fall firmly within CETS category 1, as would most of the postcards. As it states:

Depictions of Children with No Sexual Activity — Nudity, surreptitious images showing underwear nakedness, sexually suggestive posing, explicit emphasis on g-nital areas…

But there are issues other than the categorisation of the content of the postcards that warrant closer scrutiny.

Crikey spoke to Charlie King, an Aboriginal man who for many years has worked in the field of child protection and abuse prevention in the NT and currently runs a family violence awareness program for the charity CatholicCare. We asked King if people would bother to produce or buy postcards that depicted naked white, Asian or Middle-Eastern kids?

Just try it! Go and get a photographer, shoot the exact same photos with white kids and put them in the shops and see what happens. There would be an absolute outcry, an absolute outcry. It would be totally unacceptable,” he said.

This gets back to the double-standards and stereotyping of Aboriginal people that we see far too often. Many non-indigenous people have very little understanding of what indigenous people are all about.

Who wants to buy these pictures of naked Aboriginal kids? Some of these kids are very close to teenage age … I don’t think shops should be allowed to sell this sort of image. I think if you asked people what they thought of these postcards that a majority of people would say that some of this stuff is very close to pornographic.”

Crikey also showed the postcards to Professor Larissa Behrendt, of the Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning at UTS, during her recent visit to the Ampilatwatja walk-off camp 300 kilometres north-east of Alice Springs. She called them “disturbing”.

On my way out here I’ve just driven past maybe a dozen huge NT intervention signs that have ‘no p-rnography’ plastered all over them. Knowing the strict line that the Rudd government takes on these issues it is rather disturbing to see these postcards that are so exploitative of Aboriginal kids,” she said. “The cruel irony is that when you see all of these punitive measures put in place to supposedly make people ‘better parents’, nothing has been done to stop this kind of blatant commercial exploitation of Aboriginal kids.”

Crikey contacted three of the photographers involved in the production of these postcards: Craig LaMotte, Peter Lik (postcards here) and Alastair McNaughton.  At the time of going to press only one responded.

McNaughton states on the back of his postcards and website that:

Royalties from his Australian Aboriginal images series of postcards, art prints and bookmarks are paid to the Aboriginal communities and Alastair maintains a close relationship with his friends there.

And, as McNaughton explained to Crikey, his photographers have a “background and context”, which should be considered. He says he lived and worked in the western desert community for four years before forming his Desert Images business.

These photographs were all taken with the support and encouragement of the parents or guardians of the children and a legal agreement was made through the Aboriginal Legal Service,” he said. “This has been an ongoing agreement since 1996. The intention of my photographs has always been to show the more positive side to Aboriginal life in remote communities. I believe they suggest the joy and innocence of childhood.”

But King says parental permission is not enough.

There are times when parents are going to make arrangements and sign things that they say are OK and that they are going to get paid money for it. I think we need legislation that backs up a system of classification,” he said. “And despite some photographers being able to strike a deal with mum and dad, there still should be strong legislation that prevents that being distributed. But there is a broader moral issue outside of that — we should not be peddling this sort of image around.”

Professor Behrendt points to the importance of context when considering this issue.

Bill Henson’s photographs explore issues of teenage sexuality but we see them in the context of an art gallery,” she says. “These photographs are not taken with any notions of creativity or exploring a theme or trying to capture a moment that is meaningful and poignant — these postcards are just about crass commercialisation, that is all. The sandy beaches of Australia on young Aboriginal bums.”

  • 1
    Posted Thursday, 18 February 2010 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    IANALB my understanding of the law is that if these are considered child p-rn of any sort all of us who have downloaded these pictures, and that includes the Sole email Subscribers, are guilty of p-rnography.

  • 2
    Ian Bryant
    Posted Thursday, 18 February 2010 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Didn’t know p-rnography was a crime Mark.

  • 3
    Stevo the Working Twistie
    Posted Thursday, 18 February 2010 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    If you see anything s-xual or p-rnographic in these images, then I pity you and suggest you seek help. You have a dirty, poisoned mind. If you believe the rest of us should have restrictions placed on what we can see based on the fact that you get some weird titillation from viewing it yourself, then you are no better than the imams who insist women wear the burqa because otherwise men won’t be able to control themselves. And while we’re on the subject of damaging children, how healthy do you think the next generations will be if they are brought up to believe that any sight of a naked person is dirty and deviant?

  • 4
    Ms Naughty
    Posted Thursday, 18 February 2010 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    Hello, moral panic. You can’t be seriously saying the photos in this post are equivalent to child porn? Are we going to be so paranoid about pedophilia now that simple depictions of nudity will have people up in arms? Apparently: according to that CETS listing, mere nudity is enough to qualify a photo as child porn. That’s just crazy.

    It’s also ridiculous that cartoons are considered to be CEM as well.

  • 5
    Posted Thursday, 18 February 2010 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    This is a good article. The double standards whereby such postcards are socially acceptable if the subjects are indigenous children but unacceptable if they are mainstream children usually remain invisible to us.
    A few years ago a teacher gave me the following insight - ‘racism is not necessarily what you do but also what you do not do, or see.’
    Thank you for your article placing this topic into our view and consciousness. Also for making us conscious of a further example of the double standards in our society, where once again, the innocent and undefended amongst us are abused.

  • 6
    Posted Thursday, 18 February 2010 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    It is high time that with the photographs of naked children we should seriously think of asking Hetty Johnson to also boycot the blatant display of bananas at Big W.

    Worse, yesterday I noticed an elderly gentleman, obviously having underage fantasies, while eating an erect banana in full sight of the public in The Domain.

    What about aubergines, zucchinis.? Be aware, but not erect.


  • 7
    Ms Naughty
    Posted Thursday, 18 February 2010 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    Anne Geddes takes photos of nude white children and makes her living that way. Shall we arrest her as well?

  • 8
    Posted Thursday, 18 February 2010 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    Anne Geddes subjects are taken with the informed advice of their parents. The parents of the subjects of the indigenous children postcards are - statistically speaking - uneducated, and - statistically speaking - very poor.
    To compare the two as equal cases is rather cruel, in my view.

  • 9
    Posted Thursday, 18 February 2010 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    I agree that this should not be considered p-rn, but if it is we need to delete the email and our browser cache immediately to provide a defence:


  • 10
    Posted Thursday, 18 February 2010 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    I’m most decidedly not a paedophile! But doesn’t anyone else think these images are beautiful? Whatever happened to the idea that the nude body is beautiful? And surely naked children can be an expression of joy and beauty and energy and a world that isn’t constantly being sexualised. Can’t they be seen beyond sex?
    Sometimes the sickness is in the eye of the beholder, or the eye of those who want to see everything as sexual or risky. I can see why many people would buy these cards and may even regard them as a photographic expression of the innocence of a native people whose world has been destroyed by invasion. Here they are in their element natural and free. If my wife and I happened on these children swimming and enjoying themselves with our cameras we would most likely photograph them, too.
    But watch me get shot down in flames by the sexualisers!

  • 11
    Posted Thursday, 18 February 2010 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    If any image of child nakedness is considered exploitation, then how much WORSE are cases of REAL children whose parents let them go nude in public to swim at public beaches or pools? Actually, even children in swimming costumes are probably wearing far too little - this must be child exploitation too as they might be SEEN by other people, and who knows what those people might be THINKING?

    Perhaps we need to lock up those parents for child abuse, and introduce burkas as standard uniform for all Australian kids, both in and out of the water.

  • 12
    James Bennett
    Posted Thursday, 18 February 2010 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    I suggest we immediately enforce the wearing of the Burka ( Burkha ? ) for all children, particularly the little darker ones with uneducated parents.

  • 13
    James Bennett
    Posted Thursday, 18 February 2010 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    Sorry Arcady ,

    I plead guilty of unknowing copycattery.

  • 14
    Ms Naughty
    Posted Thursday, 18 February 2010 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    Micae don’t you think it’s more than a little bit racist to assume that the parents of white children are able to give informed consent to a photographer but that aborigines can’t?

  • 15
    Posted Thursday, 18 February 2010 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    Good God! There is nothing exploitative or the tiniest bit pornographic about these photos. They’re cute kids playing the way nature intended. My (white, if it makes any difference) kids (3 and 1) can be seen nude in the pool or on one of Sydney’s Northern Beaches most hot days, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all. If someone’s getting off on that then it’s them that need to be dealt with, not my kids who need to be puritanised and punished.

  • 16
    Posted Thursday, 18 February 2010 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    Oh dear, what a sick society we have become that anybody could suggest that there is anything remotely pornographic or lewd about these images. This country is going to the dogs. In the next week or so, legislation will be tabled in Parliament that will decide if Australia is going to fall into line with only China, Saudia Arabia and Iraq by being the only countries in the world to offer anything other than voluntary ‘opt-in’ filtering of the Internet. What is ‘inappropriate content’? Who decides what it is?

    Do you think this is about simply filtering ‘porn’ at the ISP level? If so, how terribly wrong you are. The biggest issue is the ‘opt-in’ aspect [which we are not being given the option of]. If ‘you’ wish to shield your family from perceived threats, then use a commercially available or Govt. subsidised ‘Net Nanny’ type service. Zero problem.

    That is entirely the prerogative of each family. It is the fact that Rudd and the ACL want mandatory filtering, and not something that I have a choice as to whether I accept it, or not. The biggest problem is that Labor have efffectively sold it as a ‘porn’ filter, which the leaked ACML ‘blacklist’ shows is hogwash - as it goes much, much deeper. Google are pulling out of China because of censorship, and have just told Mr Conroy that they will not voluntarily censor the net in Oz. Where are we headed?

    Holly Doel-Mackaway with Save the Children, the largest independent children’s rights agency in the world, said educating kids and parents was the way to empower young people to be safe internet users. Doel-Mackaway noted the claims by the internet industry that the filters would be easily bypassed, would not block content found on peer-to-peer networks and chat rooms and would be in danger of being broadened to include legitimate content such as regular pornography, political views, pro-abortion sites and online gambling. Enter the ACL! Remember ACL Jim Wallace’s comment: “To be truly effective… the list of sites to be blacklisted be continuously updated and that the parameters for blacklisting sites and material are similarly continuously reviewed,”[ACL Press Release, February ‘08]. Find out more about the incursion of right-wing groups - Australian Internet Filtering Legislation & The Hard Facts About Censorship: http://internet-censorship-australia.blogspot.com/

    Please get the message out to all your crew, and write a one paragraph letter to your MP that you will not accept anything other than ‘opt-in’ filtering. You have a few days before this draconian legislation is tabled in parliament. Wake up, Australia, and act!

    If you just simply can’t believe this is actually happening, then spend a minute with the Electronic Frontiers document - http://www.efa.org.au/main/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/2010-EFA-DBCDE-Transparency.pdf - “We believe that the proposal articulated by the Labor Government will be ineffective in achieving its goals and will severely infringe the liberties of Australians and the trust that Australians have in the National Classification Scheme (NCS) and the democratic process.” Please pass this on urgently! MOST important: write to your MP: http://nocleanfeed.com/action.html

  • 17
    Posted Thursday, 18 February 2010 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    Ladies, are you doing your laundry in the love of God? Halleluia! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8uTfD-XQFpA We’re going to Hell.
    Brought to you by the same folks behind: http://internet-censorship-australia.blogspot.com/ Heaven help us, Australia. Let the anointing flow!

  • 18
    Posted Thursday, 18 February 2010 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    Of course, the real exploitation of children are done by those who ignore the increasing incidence of diabetes 2 in obese children. Was it not Tony Abbott in the previous Government as health minister refusing to ban the advertsising of junk foods during TV’s childrens hour?

    Frooty Loops above everything he seems to have implied. ( Market forces)

    If you want to get tough on child exploitation look at the economic exploitation and not to photos. The kids in these photographs look at least healthy.

  • 19
    Skepticus Autartikus
    Posted Thursday, 18 February 2010 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    While I am neither condoning nor condemning the postcards, there are two huge differences between Henson’s photography:

    1. The age of the children. Henson consciously chose his models in the 10-16 range precisely because of the sexual charge he could generate from his black and white film, lighting, etc. Whereas these postcard photos are very naturalistic snaps of very young children running around nude at the beach, as Australian infants of all races do. They are neither suggestive nor manipulative as Henson’s were.

    2. Sadly, Australia has institutionalized different standards and laws for Aborigines compared to the rest of Australians. The irony is that people like Larrisa Behrendt are precisely the people who encourage and advocate for these differences, due to “the uniqueness of indigenous cultures’ you see.

  • 20
    Greg Angelo
    Posted Thursday, 18 February 2010 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    Whether these children are of aboriginal descent or not is entirely irrelevant. What is relevant is the intention of the photographer in relation to the picture, and in particular his or her intended effect on the viewer. Try as I might, I see nothing pornographic in these images

    Purveyors of pornography specifically target their images to an audience which derives some pleasure from viewing the image. Protection of children from pornographic exploitation it is very important, but in these pictures I see nothing which should arouse any particular concern. If our yardstick becomes the impression or reaction of psychologically deficient individual then we are in serious trouble. On this basis, it could be considered that there is more pornography in the weekly promotional circulars in our letterbox showing curvaceous female bodies modelling underwear, or an increasing trend two sexualise the clothing of pre-teenage girls in these catalogues. By all means target serious pornographers, but leave the artists alone.

    Rather than get one’s rocks off about a postcard, it would be much better for people concerned with exploitation of aboriginal children to pressure government for more intervention in the health and welfare of aboriginal children who are caught in a politically correct minefield with some of them being substantially abused and neglected, but no corrective action can be taken for fear of “racism”. Such an activistinterventionwould be a much more noble cause than worrying about postcards.

  • 21
    Posted Thursday, 18 February 2010 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    Agree MICAE, you make a fair point.

    Also SKEPTICUS A. It’s a funny thing-we all have different views on things. I agree exactly about your comment on Hensonart. But I also found the picture of the boys on/by the rock discomforting.

    The usual clichés about seeing the human body as dirty/being PC (awww God! has THAT one been hijacked!), narrow minded etc., are a predictable consequence of such views. They are untrue for me.

    So the pictures shown here generate two issues,- for me at least.

  • 22
    Posted Thursday, 18 February 2010 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    Oh for Heavens sake!! Not THAT again!!!

    We are discussing postcards here, so the response is on the bl…on the postcards! The stupid assumption that one cares little about other ‘greater’ issues as a result, is fallacious and absurd!!

  • 23
    Skepticus Autartikus
    Posted Thursday, 18 February 2010 at 5:42 pm | Permalink


    As I said, I am neither condemning nor condoning these particular snaps, I just wanted to highlight that either way, there still are significant differences between the two situations.

  • 24
    Ms Naughty
    Posted Thursday, 18 February 2010 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    The original prohibition on child pornography began because children were being harmed in the creation of those images. This should still be the primary criteria in determining if an image is child exploitation material: was the child actually hurt? That is why it’ is disturbing that cartoons are included in the CETS listing. With that we’re into the realm of trying to people from thinking dirty thoughts about kids and right there you’re on the slippery slope to thought crime.

    I look at those postcards and all I see are beautiful children enjoying themselves, sans clothes. It’s disturbing that others want to read sexuality into them and disturbing that paranoia is making us all nervous about depictions of childhood nudity. Can’t we celebrate the innocence that lets kids be unselfconsciously nude like that?

  • 25
    Posted Thursday, 18 February 2010 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

    Pathetic. I come from Africa and you see nude children of both sexes up to age 10 running around all the time, and in many areas women go bare-breasted. Nobody looks twice, nobody gives a damn, FFS. Get rid of toxic western religions and we wouldn’t see all the BS.

  • 26
    Posted Thursday, 18 February 2010 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    I DID grasp that SA ( I tried to print your tag in full, and kept getting it wrong-it’s the heat…).

    However, you also wrote THIS:

    Henson consciously chose his models in the 10-16 range precisely because of the sexual charge he could generate from his black and white film, lighting, etc.’

    It is this remark I agree with, and I said so. Condemnation or otherwise..

    I also mentioned that we (people) vary in our views of things, even if in core agreement.

    Perhaps I put that badly?

  • 27
    Posted Thursday, 18 February 2010 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    RATEL: Pathetic.

    At least you acknowledge toxic-West. Perhaps there is more innocence in your mother country, I know not.

    But I’ll make no apology to you or anyone else for having concern about the exploitation (or perceived exploitation????-covering both sides here!) of children.

  • 28
    Skepticus Autartikus
    Posted Thursday, 18 February 2010 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    No, it seems we are in total agreement. People do different on their standards and boundaries, and we should always be sensitive to the possibility that we have not properly thought through our own boundaries on what we consider beyond the pale.

  • 29
    Posted Thursday, 18 February 2010 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    If someone finds images of young children erotic, these postcards will appeal to them sexually. That doesn’t make them porn, nor does it in any way endorse or encourage tolerance of child abuse.

    There is almost no photograph in existence that won’t appeal to a fetishist out there somewhere, but why should millions of people be denied images of beauty or cuteness or meaning just because someone out there masturbates over them? It’s self-righteous moral prudery at its worst.

  • 30
    Posted Thursday, 18 February 2010 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

    As the only agreement above seems to be that it is in the eye of the beholder, then we return to the proposition upon which all law is based - some people are not nice and do nasty things to other people (rape,steal,rob,kill,enslave ad nauseam).
    We try not to default to the lowest common denominator but there will always be progs.such as YesterdayLastWeek, CurrantBun and 37Minutes to excite moral panic and self righteous xenophobhia.

  • 31
    Posted Thursday, 18 February 2010 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Bob, this really has me thinking. I don’t know the answer but once again you’ve lifted the bar for Crikeys contributors.

  • 32
    Posted Friday, 19 February 2010 at 5:34 am | Permalink

    Yes Bob, well posited. The problem is ours (adults), not theirs (kids).

  • 33
    Bob Gosford
    Posted Friday, 19 February 2010 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    Thanks for all the responses so far.

    I considered responding earlier but it was only until I got to the comment from Skepticus Autartikus that I thought that any response from me would be little more that talking past those spouting confected outrage or who hadn’t actually read much of the piece.

    I do take issue with Ms Naughty and her note about “harm”. Harm in this context may not crystalise until some years later - perhaps due to the nature of the consent - if any - given by a child’s guardians or maybe because the subject may not realise that their image had been grabbed and exploited at all for some years after the shutter has been pressed.

    To my knowledge at least one of these postcards has been in the market for at least 10 years and is offered for sale across the country. And to the best of my knowledge no consent or arrangement with the subject or their guardians has ever been entered into - money for nothing.

    In this context the harm/s could perhaps be characterised as the economic loss of the opportunity to exploit the image - if indeed the subject/guardian thought that appropriate, the entirely subjective - and thus unpredictable - harm or injury that may be suffered by an individual or their guardians many years after the event when they realise - or suffer the mockery of their peers etc - that they have been portrayed in this manner without their knowledge or consent and finally, and this is particularly relevant in an Aboriginal or Torres Strait islander context, the continued unauthorised publication of images where a subject may have passed away.

    I also note the strict ethical and legal guidelines on the taking and use of images of children that are applied in other areas of society - for one example that doesn’t appear to have attracted too much controversy see the Australian Sports Commission’s “Guidelines on the Use of Images of Children” at:http://www.ausport.gov.au/supporting/ethics/resources/info_sheets/harassment-free_sport_information_sheet_series/images_of_children
    Other examples that may warrant closer attention are the professional conduct standards of the various associations that represent professional photographers and the vetting and police checks of individuals that apply to anyone working with children.

    Finally, as AR and John note, the beauty of these images is in the eye of the beholder. But, where there is no control over the taking or use of these images the harm done may be in the hearts and minds of the subjects.

  • 34
    Posted Friday, 19 February 2010 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    Bob, some interesting context. If the images are being used without permission and for especially monetary gain, then that’s grounds for action and appropriate relief - there is endless scope for that well enshrined and precedented. No problem there. As your link to the Sports Commission guidelines rightly state, releases are required for commercial use.

    However, the clear thrust of the post is equating these images to kiddie porn, not the rights or permissions or compensation. And that’s where my problem lies - to see porn in these images, to me, means the world has gone mad.

  • 35
    Bob Gosford
    Posted Friday, 19 February 2010 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    CID - and others - I’ve just noticed that the statement in my original piece to the effect that “I did not think that either Henson’s images or the postcards were porn” and only fell marginally within the first category of CEM material was a victim of the editing process…

  • 36
    educated black mum
    Posted Friday, 19 February 2010 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    In reply Micae

    Again not only are our children exploited but again and again we are stereotyped. Poor uneducated blacks , well you couldnt be further from the truth , the mother and father of the little girl to the left of the photo both have their Batchelor degrees and i am the mother of the little girl on the right and i have a Masters in Indigenous Studies.

    We were not consulted because Peter Lik thought we were too uneducated or too poor to speak to, we were not consulted about this picture because the undelying racism that unfortunately is a part of the fabric of this nation says its ok to treat the custodians of this land in this manner.

  • 37
    Posted Friday, 19 February 2010 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    Bob - a startling omission that changes the whole tone of the post!

    Educated Black Mum - If you weren’t consulted then that’s disgraceful behaviour on the part of the photographer and the publishers. Unfortunately it’s a murky area - the kids are in a public place and their faces aren’t easily identifiable so it would be hard to assert your rights. Your race and education are probably (hopefully) irrelevant, this is probably just a money grubber who clearly knows where he stands when he takes a photo. Mr Lik, if you’re reading this you need to set this right. Or at least present your side.

    It’s a pity this photo obviously, and rightly, makes you bitter EBM, it’s a beautiful shot that you should be able to be proud of.

  • 38
    Bob Gosford
    Posted Friday, 19 February 2010 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    CID - not an omission on my part and hopefully there will be more to come on EBM’s views on this matter. I’d not been able to contact her before we went to press. And the issues EBM raises are worthy of a closer look on their own. I have attempted on several occasions to contact the photographer in question - and will do so again for his views on these issues. Watch this space…

  • 39
    Posted Friday, 19 February 2010 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    So, let me get this straight.

    My primary school grandsons play soccer and when I take a photo it might inadvertently include another young player. I quickly walk over to the team leader and ask the name of the other young player. I then get onto the megaphone and inquire if the parent/s of the extra player is available for consultation and consent?

    I then get back to my camera and discover my grandsons have finished playing long ago and are now queuing up for a nice fat sausage roll.

    Don’t worry,I’ll soon avert my eyes when eating a banana but I also think Australia has gone nuts.

  • 40
    Posted Friday, 19 February 2010 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    Gerard, there’s a world of difference between catching a happy snap of your grandson and taking commercial photographs of a situation which common sense would dictate would require at least parental consent but hopefully also the consent of the children. My issue with this story is not the content of the postcards - how we as a society have managed to lose our understanding that not all nudity is sexual is beyond me - but EBM’s statement that no consent was sought by a commercial photographer taking pictures of naked kids.

  • 41
    James Bennett
    Posted Friday, 19 February 2010 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    @Educated black mom,

    surely you taketh the piss.

    Mom and Dad with Batchelor degrees ( I guess you mean from the Batchelor Institute rather than the conventional slightly differently spelt meaning )

    And a Masters in Indigenous Studies for yourself , i guess that’s why you assume you are custodian of this land.
    That’s a pretty big brief for any human what with the study and being a mom and everything - do you do a course to be custodian or does just being born qualify you?

    Anyway good luck with it , how’s it going so far ?

  • 42
    Bob Gosford
    Posted Friday, 19 February 2010 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Oh, dear. I will leave the predictable and deserved response to Mr Bennett’s post to EBM.

    I’m sure she will have a lot of fun with him. Perhaps next time he might like to read, and think about, what he has written before he presses the “Enter” key.

    And lets rise just a little above cheap shots against people you don’t, and are never likely to, know…please.

  • 43
    Posted Friday, 19 February 2010 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    I guess there’s no moderation on comments. Even Americans get through (mom?!) . Thanks for your input James, you’ve certainly furthered the discussion.

  • 44
    Ms Naughty
    Posted Friday, 19 February 2010 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    Bob thanks for your clarifying replies.

    This then is really about copyright, in a way, and the ethics of consent when it comes to being photographed. With photography for commercial gain, I do fully support the idea of the subjects giving consent and being compensated. It’s only fair. If this hasn’t happened, then it’s a problem.

    The other issue raised is the stereotyping occurring with postcards: here’s a kangaroo, a koala, an aborigine… For want of a more coherent description it’s all very 1960s.

    And yet the capitalist in me says that if you are happy to be involved in that stereotyping and are fairly compensated for that, OK then. Indeed, if indigenous people were fully involved in the creation of such art, dodgy though it may be, then good luck to them if it makes them money.

    I’m still uncertain that it’s fair to say the kids in the pics above have been psychologically harmed. As someone has mentioned, you can’t see their faces, the work is artistic, it depicts them as beautiful. I see them as very positive images.

  • 45
    Posted Friday, 19 February 2010 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    OK. I’ll be good. I’ll say nothing to James Bollocks.

    I don’t know how to respond to your post EBM, without sounding patronising.

    I will say this though;-when I first came to Oz over thirty years ago, I took a trip up to the Centre on the old Ghan. I recall taking photographs of Indigenous Australians.

    They just sat there,-they were used to it. I took those photo’s as if they were specimens!

    I should know better. My mother is coloured. My brothers were darker than she was. They were called niggers. I pass for White-lucky old me! ( though I was advised to keep the ‘colour’ in my background quiet soon after coming here! I did the opposite.).

    I don’t know when my attitude as a ‘tourist’ came to me, but I don’t have those pictures, I don’t know when I got rid of them.

    The specific issue here is how we treat Indigenous Australians with little respect, compared to the dear ol’ Whitey.

    The issue of exploiting children IS relevant here, how they will react later in life is more important to me then the aquiescence of their parents (Hensonart).

    However in your case, parental agreement/aquiescence was not even sought. YOU have now told us that. You are the wrong colour tacquiescenceo warrantacquiescence it.

    THAT is the issue here. ANY justification of such, will make/makes me so damn depressed.
    We don’t seem to care. It’s the 21st century, and STILL we learn nothing.

    I saw the picture of the toddlers as inoffensive,- unlike the posed picture of the boys, which I don’t like.

    What is relevant of course is how YOU found it/them. How easily we forget that.

  • 46
    Posted Friday, 19 February 2010 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    What the…!!

    Computer glitch.

    >>>>>You were the wrong colour to warrant it.<<<<<<<<

    It WOULD be interesting to hear the point of view of the photographer.

  • 47
    Skepticus Autartikus
    Posted Friday, 19 February 2010 at 2:53 pm | Permalink


    Your protests as the actual parent of these children is the most important fact in this issue. Having said that, even as recently as ten years ago, Australians were not as on-edge about representations of child nudity, or about people taking our photos in casual, public settings.

    I remember being shocked, taken-aback, embarrassed, and even a little ashamed, when about 4 years ago - just when mobile phones first appeared with inbuilt cameras - I was having a quiet beer on my own in a pub at about 4 p.m. I was using my mobile, when this guy charges over and demands I stop invading his privacy, and to put my “camera” away.

    So I wonder if 10 years ago, you were really all that opposed to your children being photographed? Did you object? Your post unfortunately substitutes a misinformed rant about you being some ‘custodian’ and related victim ideology you would have picked up from your “Batchelor Institute.”

    Stick to your role as the child’s parent, rather than re-exploiting those children as a platform to spew your ideological bilge.

  • 48
    educated black mum
    Posted Friday, 19 February 2010 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    In response to a few people firstly the man who uses the example of taking a photo of his grandson at soccer , this is totally different this picture was taken without our knowledge and then made into a postcard and is still on sale today . Have a go all you like at Indigenous people and Batchelor Institute , we have survived a lot worse.

  • 49
    Skepticus Autartikus
    Posted Friday, 19 February 2010 at 4:36 pm | Permalink


    I regard you as a human being and as an Australian, not as some object of curiosity to be singled out from the rest of the nation, and given almost scientific classification of indigenous as though you were a platypus or eucalyptus tree. The tone of your posts suggests you prefer to be so singled out. I feel for you, and hope you can find peace and join the tribe of Australians and the broader family of humanity.

    In the meantime, I will not indulge and abett this bizarre - and somewhat masochistic - desire to return to the days when Aborigines were legally constituted along with fauna and flora. If you consider this as ‘having a go’ at you, that’s your problem sister, not the rest of the nations.

  • 50
    James Bennett
    Posted Friday, 19 February 2010 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    Come on you lot, EBM isn’t genuine.

    No one with a degree spells Batchula like that and only a complete wanker annoints themselves ’ Custodian of this Land ‘

    It doesn’t sound like something an aboriginal would say - it sounds more like something a white Crikey letter writer would use to describe their ideal noble black fella.

    In fact even the title ‘educated black mum’ sounds straight out of the Crikey phrase book.